Spring Preview: Rainiers Corner Infielders

It’s Part 3 of our Tacoma Rainiers spring training previews, and this time we look at the corner infielders.

I’ve gotten into a habit of lumping the first basemen and third basemen into the same post, because in recent years the Rainiers have had a number of guys who play both positions. It looks like this will happen in 2017, too.

The key corner infielder for the 2017 Tacoma Rainiers should be D.J. Peterson. A former first round draft pick of the Mariners who has seen his stock rise and fall, Peterson is coming off a solid 2016 season and is set for a full year of Triple-A. The Rainiers are hoping he can provide a potent bat in the middle of the lineup this year.

Peterson came up as a third baseman but played primarily first base in 2016. I’d expect him to play first base in 2017 – except the Rainiers (at this writing) don’t have a true third baseman coming into spring camp.

Last year Zach Shank handled third base for much of the second half, but the organization feels that Shank is best suited as a multiple-position player. Shank can play third, second, shortstop (in a pinch), center field, and the outfield corners. Shank hit .292 for the Rainiers last year, with some doubles power. If he is going to reach the majors, it will be as a utility man capable of playing all over the place – and I’m sure manager Pat Listach would like to use him that way in Tacoma.

Another player in the mix for third base is Taylor Motter, who I wrote about in the middle infield post last week. Motter can play all over the diamond, and he could see quite a bit of time at third.

I’m hearing the Mariners are still looking at adding a Triple-A third baseman, maybe a veteran from the free agent ranks or via trade with another team. But if that doesn’t happen, we’re probably looking at Peterson at first base, with Shank and Motter sharing a third base / utility role (and that’s assuming Motter doesn’t oust Shawn O’Malley from the major league utility spot).

Note that Dan Vogelbach has not been mentioned yet. At this time it appears the Mariners are committed to giving Vogelbach an opportunity to play every day in the big leagues this year.

Links:

Today the Mariners are holding their annual Pre-Spring Training Media Luncheon. We’ll have a new post Friday to cover any Rainiers-related news that comes out of the event.

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